Lance Zierlein’s “Postcards from the Edge”: A Draft Survey of a Major Position of Need

| April 12th, 2024

Dallas Turner, Edge, Alabama

Zierlein Comparison: Brian Burns

Zierlein Overview: “Long and athletic with the explosive traits needed to become an impactful NFL pass rusher. Turner’s first-step quickness and elite closing burst are important building blocks, but he still needs to work on his process from Point A to Point B. He hasn’t learned to create the space and angles needed to consistently attack the edges, but that should come with better hand development and a more diversified approach. A team would be wise to widen him out and allow him a better runway to ignite his burst and overwhelm tackles with his speed. He’s added 20 pounds since coming to Alabama, but he struggles at times to stack and shed run blockers or set a firm edge. Turner’s frame and game are much less developed than Will Anderson Jr.’s coming out of Alabama last year, so it could take time for him to make his mark as a starting 3-4 outside linebacker.”


Jared Verse, Edge, FSU

Zierlein Comparison: LaMarr Woodley

Zierlein Overview: “Talented edge defender with the field demeanor, athleticism and skill set to rack up statistics in key categories fairly early in his NFL career. Verse dominated at Albany and then showed an ability to do the same at Florida State. He’s twitchy and compact, with explosiveness featured at the point of attack and in his upfield burst as a pass rusher. He’s great with his hands and does a nice job of diagnosing plays quickly and staying out of the clinches of offensive linemen looking to snatch him up. Verse’s ability to threaten the edge only bolsters his hellish speed-to-power bull-rushing ability to run tackles deep into the pocket. He can play up or down and should be in consideration for all defensive schemes looking to add a safe, high-impact edge.”


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With Caleb Williams a Foregone Conclusion, All Eyes Shift to the Ninth Pick: WR Edition

| March 29th, 2024

When it comes to the ninth pick in the draft, three wide receivers seem to have consensus appeal: Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State), Malik Nabers (LSU) and Rome Odunze (Washington). There are varying opinion as to the ranking of these three but the likelihood remains that at least one will be on the board when the Bears pick for the second time in the first round.

So, who are they?  As always, this time of year, I lean on Lance Zierlein at NFL.com.

Marvin Harrison Jr.

Zierlein Comparison: CeeDee Lamb.

Zierlein Overview: “Harrison comes from impressive NFL bloodlines and possesses similarities that made his father, Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison, special. Harrison can run but isn’t a burner. What makes him tough to handle is his consistent play speed paired with quality salesmanship in his routes. He’s able to uncover no matter where he’s aligned or which part of the field his assignment takes him to, and he is capable of finishing catches in a crowd. Harrison can be sudden while working possession routes, and he’s well qualified to beat any opponent with his ball skills if the battle heads deep. Harrison is a touchdown champ with a variety of ways to excel, and that characteristic figures to follow him into the pros. He has the traits and tools to win in all three phases of the route and on all three levels of the field. He’s a pedigree prospect and a Day 1 starter with high-end production expected.”


Malik Nabers

Zierlein Comparison: Justin Jefferson.

Zierlein Overview: “Nabers is the next big thing coming out of LSU’s receiver room, with the pure explosiveness and talent to be mentioned in the same breath as former LSU stars starring in the league today. Despite a lack of polish and precision as a route-runner, Nabers’ gliding movements and speed alterations seem to disguise the top-end speed and separation potential that await opposing coverages. He’s a bouncy leaper with the athletic ability to make the impossible catches possible. He tucks away accurate throws and displays the toughness and play strength to fight for tight-window victories over the middle. Nabers will need to address his tendency to track and play deep throws with finesse, or his early advantages will turn into 50/50 battles. He can play all three receiver spots and has the profile to become a productive, high-volume target over all three levels as a potential WR1.

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Amateur Analysis Has Clouded, Confused the Draft (and Everything Else)

| April 24th, 2023

It is called Letterboxd, and I was unaware of it until very recently. Letterboxd is a website/app that enables individuals to catalogue all the films they have seen and review each. And as movie critic bylines are disappearing in newspapers around the country, and reliable sources for movie opinions with them, Letterboxd is actually starting to assert some influence in the industry. Without these critics, and reliable box office reports, studios are looking to Letterboxd to crowdsource film response.

But Letterboxd is truly a product of the social media era, a period that has intellectually enriched the intellectually impoverished. All you need is a viable email address and suddenly you have the right to dispute Adam Jahns’ reporting on Twitter, criticize Steve Martin’s banjo playing on Facebook and take umbrage with Paige Spiranac’s commercial viability on Instagram. You’ve never had a source in the NFL. You’ve never owned a banjo. You’re broke. But these platforms provide you equitable status, even though that status is entirely unearned. If HacksawRidgeFan232 wants to criticize Rear Window on Letterboxd, who’s to stop him?

A very similar thing is happening with regards to the NFL Draft.

Yes, there are some very talented evaluators working out there in the Draft Industrial Complex. Dane Brugler’s “The Beast” is a marvel of craftmanship and a testament to Brugler’s passion and diligence. Robert K. Schmitz isn’t working for a major outlet, but it’s only a matter of time. He’s sort of the anti-Beast, establishing with short Twitter videos a pointedly economic methodology for presenting prospects. And Lance Zierlein is a personal favorite. He’s created what essentially serves as a Draftopedia Brittanica, a resource at NFL.com that I wear out in the month of April.

When it comes to evaluations, these individuals do yeoman’s work. But when it comes to the establishment of draft value, their opinions don’t really hold water.

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